Help Your Teen Minimize Setbacks by Giving Feedforward

Knowing the difference between feedback and feedforward can help your teenager find more success and joy in their journey.

Giving feedback is a necessary form of communication and can be applied in many different facets of life—parenting, work, school, religious responsibilities, and more. For some, receiving feedback can be difficult, especially when the person is firm in their habits and opinions. On the other hand, when feedback is given too late, the consequences of one’s actions are already inevitable. Regardless, feedback is an important part of life and should be welcomed when the situation permits.

But what about those times when feedback isn’t helpful? In the aftermath of an unfortunate situation, the last thing your teen wants to hear is what they should have done differently. They most likely know what they should have done differently, but that advice would have been very helpful before the unfortunate situation occurred in the first place. At Not By Chance, we like to call this feedforward. It’s similar to feedback, but it’s almost always more beneficial because it can help someone avoid doing something they regret. In a nutshell, feedforward can keep someone from making a preventable mistake.

Knowing the difference between feedback and feedforward can help your teenager find more success and joy in their journey by minimizing the pain they feel along the way. Some pain is of course necessary and inevitable for growth, but giving them feedforward can help set them up for a great life ahead.

The Blind Man Metaphor

If there is a blind man approaching a set of stairs, it is unhelpful to tell him to watch out for the staircase after he has fallen down. He now knows the staircase is there and he’s facing the consequences of his actions—whether it’s a few bruises or even a broken bone. Feedforward would have been given as someone saw the blind man at the top of the stairs, stopped him, and let him know there was a staircase ahead. They might also have led him to the handrail so he could make it down safely. This would have saved him from injury.

It sounds like a simple principle, but when you are working with teens, it’s hard to know how your feedforward will be received. There are a few things that factor into their reaction that you should consider. First, if you’re not careful, feedforward can come off as judgmental, controlling, or lecturing. Your teen might not be in the right headspace to receive what you have to say. If this is a roadblock you experience, try assessing your delivery and see how it can be improved. If you come from a place of sincere love and concern, your kids will be more likely to accept what you have to say.

Another Real Example of Feedforward

Another example that might help as a parent to navigate the feedforward process is an experience I had. I injured my neck as a result of chipping ice off the driveway with a pickaxe one winter. I had to cut my family vacation short and spent Christmas alone because I was in such severe pain. I spent the next few months recovering, and it was a long, painful road.

A few years later I was using the same pickaxe in my yard, and my son (knowing what happened last time), offered to take over for me because he was concerned about my neck injury. My son knew what could happen if I continued working with the pickaxe, so he stepped in to help. This could have saved me from another few months of painful recovery.

In Conclusion

Sometimes your teens will receive your feedforward well, but sometimes they won’t. The best thing you can do is lead with love. Don’t deliver it in a judgmental or degrading way—let your child know you love them and want the best for them, which is why you are offering your advice.

It’s important to remember that even if they don’t listen to what you have to say, they will still learn a valuable lesson out of the experience and you can have peace of mind knowing you have done everything you can to set them up for success.

To learn more about this topic listen to the Not by Chance Podcast Episode: “Give Feedforward Not Feedback” on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

In this article

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Dr. Tim Thayne Presents:

How Parents Can Put A Stop To Their Teen's Self Destructive Behaviors WITHOUT Conflict Or Walking On Eggshells

Mike Christian

Back-End Developer & DevOps​

Mike is one of those brilliant, self-taught, back end developers that you always hear about. As a youth he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what . . .” When he isn’t cranking out new code, Mike keeps up on the newest technologies and every Tuesday and Thursday nights he trains SpeedSoft with his team.

Rafael Pampoch

Web Developer

Rafael has his degree in Marketing and Advertising and years of experience with our dev team. As a teen he could trust that “The most important thing in life is love, and the most valuable things are our family and friends.” When he isn’t working on making the website and mobile versions of Trustyy seamless and functional, he unwinds by exploring nature. His favorite activities are climbing mountains, camping, going to the beach, swimming, playing the harmonica and always learning new things.

Afton Wilde


Afton’s experience is in marketing and bookkeeping.  As a teen she could trust that with her parents “Feeding the horses and milking the cow each day before school–not after–was a must.”  When she isn’t busy with keeping Trustyy’s lights on, you’ll usually find her baking up a new treat or working on a sewing project.

Nicoli Cristini

Marketing Assistant

Nicoli has a degree in Multimedia Production.  She has worked with our team of developers for three years.  She learned to trust her own parents when they taught her “Things won’t come easy and that working hard will bring me great blessings!”  When she isn’t putting together beautiful marketing pieces for the Trustyy App she likes to take pictures, play the guitar, piano, and drums, and meet up with her family to laugh over the silly things they did as kids.

Adriano Rodrigues

Mobile Developer

Adriano is certified in Analysis and Systems Development.  In his family he could trust the fact that “One difficult experience teaches me that failure is not the end, but rather an opportunity for growth and learning.”  When he is away from his work in making sure the Trustyy App buttons and bells and whistles are working properly, he likes to go to the gym, to the beach to surf, on walks with his dog, or go out with his girlfriend.

Lucas Baumgart

Product Designer

Lucas’s work experience is in User Experience, Interface Design and Product Management. As a teen he could trust that “In my home honesty was highly valued and lying was not tolerated.”  When he isn’t at work making sure the Trustyy App is easy on the eyes, Lucas likes hiking, gaming, going out for dinner, and spending time with family.

Cadu Olivera

Front End Developer

Cadu has his education in Analysis and System Development.  While growing up he could always trust that “My parents would be there to support from playing soccer at the park to learning to ride a bike.”   When he isn’t making sure things are easily navigated for our Trustyy App users, he likes to play beach soccer and enjoy music of any type, but specifically rock, country, R&B, and pop.

Mike Curi

Back End Developer

Mike is one of those brilliant, self-taught, back-end developers that you always hear about. As a youth he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what.” When he isn’t cranking out new code, Mike keeps up on the newest technologies and every Tuesday and Thursday nights he trains SpeedSoft with his team. 

Roxanne Thayne

Co-Founder/Chief Marketing Officer

Roxanne received her bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education.  She has worked in publishing and marketing for the past 14 years.  In her family Roxanne says she could trust that “Her grammar and posture would be consistently corrected, to help her to become a lady.”  When she isn’t busy writing and beautifying things for the Trustyy App, you can find her reading biographies, practicing yoga, or gathering the family to talk business, celebrate wins or just plain hang out.

Sidney Rodrigues

Co-Founder/Chief Technology Officer

Sidney has a bachelor’s degree in Web Development and has worked in technology for 16 years, building apps for the last 10 years. Growing up he could trust that “It was always expected that I would fix anything related to technology.”  When he isn’t managing the development of the Trustyy App, you will find him spending time with his wife and kids. He loves to make Brazillian BBQ with his family.

Jim Lee

Co-Founder/Chief Product Officer

Jim has a degree in Design and over 25 years of experience creating SaaS products and managing talented product and development teams.  In his years at home as the oldest of five he could trust that “Each child got a weekly ‘night-up’ where we got to stay up late with a parent and do anything we wanted with them.”  When he isn’t looking 10 miles down the road for what will come next on the Trustyy App, you will find Jim canyoneering, doing photography, watercolor painting, or keeping up on the latest gadgets and technologies.

Eric Turner

Co-Founder/Chief Operations Officer

Eric earned his degree in Communications, Public Relations and Advertising, then added on an MBA.  He says he could trust that “His parents were honest people who kept their commitments–especially to their kids.”  When Eric isn’t keeping everyone at Trustyy on task, he is an outdoor enthusiast, year around, rain or shine, cold or hot, with biking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

Tim Thayne

Founder | Chief Executive Officer

Tim earned masters and doctoral degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy, and has 30 years of experience working with families.  While growing up Tim says he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what, and that my dad would require that I respect my mother.”  When he isn’t busy guiding the vision for the Trustyy App, you can find Tim working around the house and yard, taking care of his sheep, dogs and horses, or enjoying a game of Corn Hole with the family.